Electronic Health Record (EHR) or Electronic Medical Record (EMR) 1.01

Think of an EMR as the equivalent of a patient’s paper medical record, the accumulation of one business unit’s information about the patient.  Typically, patient health care information is found in multiple paper medical records (or EMRs). Even in small isolated communities with a limited number of care options, records are kept in multiple locations. The hospital has medical records, most often organized as episodes of care. Even if all medical practitioners use the same outpatient medical record, dental and psychiatric records are often segregated.

Some systems of care have taken the step of combining all the regional medical records; consider the result to be a combined medical record. The step involves considerable effort as each patient will need to be uniquely identified and the various health care entities will need to establish a common form and governance of the medical record, not an easy task.

If the system of care takes the concept one step further and embraces the concept that the medical record should be the complete record of the patient, they are on the path to an electronic health record.  The quest to obtain a complete record will never be finished as there will always be more information that can be gathered. However, the quest results in a record with ever increasing value to patients and caregivers.

An EHR is considerably more complex than a combined medical record because systems of care that are not directly aligned business units need to agree on common patient identifiers, common structures and governance.

There are three common structures for EHRs.

  1. A regional data exchange
  2. Aligned medical records using a standard database structure
  3. A single common medical record with one database.

I will discuss these types of EHRs in a future post

Our use of the term EHR, signified our intent to move towards a single health record for a patient. As you can imagine, the vision of having an EHR had major significance for selection of a vendor.

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